The closure of part of the migrant camp in Calais this week has led to unfortunate violence which puts migrants and refugees at further risk and complicates progress toward a sustainable solution, IOM warned today.
IOM views the situation in Calais with concern and urges that immediate measures be taken to protect the most vulnerable migrants and refugees, including women and children in and around the camps, who are at particular risk of being trafficked.
IOM appeals to authorities and to the migrants themselves to refrain from the use of violence, which risks exacerbating existing tensions and lack of trust between the authorities and the migrants.
“The violence and breakdown of order in Calais is very worrying. A dignified, longer-term solution to the situation is needed,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
“Measures to handle the situation in Calais should be taken with utmost care, while efforts to protect and provide viable alternatives for the affected migrants should be stepped up,” he stressed.
The strengthening of information provision and independent counseling is needed for migrants and asylum seekers in the settlements, who currently see no alternative but to continue to the UK. Cultural mediation and confidence-building between authorities and migrants are needed to overcome the impasse.
IOM believes that it would be in the interest of migrants to take advantage of improved official arrangements for reception, identification, registration, and asylum processing.
At the same time IOM calls on the authorities to enhance and accelerate the reunification of family members residing in the UK, particularly for unaccompanied migrant children.
IOM is convinced that actions taken with the migrants’ individual circumstances factored into the response can defuse tensions, increase cooperation, and decrease the risk that further informal settlements will be erected.
Broader, longer-term measures to address the wider phenomenon of migrant and refugee flows to Europe in a humane and coherent manner must also be part of the solution.
Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, cautioned that the current situation in Calais is another reminder that the lack of a comprehensive and united approach to migration will lead to the perpetuation of similar, unresolved problems.
“First and foremost, European countries need to consider the provision of increased and durable international protection for the majority of those arriving in the EU. The improvement of adequate legal routes to enter the EU in a safe and dignified way needs to be urgently addressed, and in the case of Calais, legal options to gain protection, reside or travel onward are the most important, especially for minors and those separated from their families,” he said.
The southern part of the Calais camp being dismantled has impacted 800 to 3,500 men, women and children, according to estimates which vary between local authorities and NGOs.
An estimated 10-20 percent of the migrants in Calais are children, either with family or unaccompanied. This includes 300 unaccompanied minors, according to local NGOs. In the northern part of the camp, 1,000 to 3,000 people are still living in tents.
French authorities are asking migrants to relocate to a temporary reception center in Calais that can house 1,500 people and where 200 places are still available, or to one of the 102 available temporary reception and referral centers across France.
According to local authorities, over 2,800 persons have been relocated from Calais to other French towns since October 2015, but between 15-20 percent of these have returned to Calais.
Many of the migrants now in Calais come from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. There are also significant numbers of people from sub-Saharan Africa.
For further information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM’s Regional Office in Brussels, Tel. +32 2 287 71 16 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org